Home Activism I Don’t Care About Clients ActivismClients I Don’t Care About Clients By suzyhooker - February 19, 2014 This post was removed at the author’s request.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. This has been causing problems in the San Francisco sex worker rights movement for years. Recently, Maxine Doogan was quoted as saying that the term “John” is as offensive as “n****r”, and causing every other sex worker rights activist to freak the fuck out because Maxine DOES NOT speak for us, and yet she claims that right. That, combined with a certain cis white male sex worker’s recent ranting about how SW activism is a social club for female hos and how clients are 90% of the rights movement and we should be freely inviting them to our events and meetings has left me wanting to tear out my hair.
What the actual fuck?!?! To both of those things (seriously, equating “John” with racial slurs? this bitch be trippin’) but the latter in particular is unfortunately something I’ve dealt with as well. In my town, massage studios are typically female owned and operated, with one major exception – a studio owned by a man who also does some sex work himself. He’s very sleazy and pushy with his girls, and he’s fired many for refusing to sleep with him. He whines incessantly about how he’s victimized as a male sex worker, and he claims that his voice deserves to be heard more because he’s a minority, and sex work activism discriminates against him. So essentially he’s appropriated the language of actual victims of bigotry to serve his own gross cis white hetero male agenda.
I firmly believe that we can do better as activists than to accept and embrace whatever allies we can get. Do white cis male sex workers deserve a place in our movement? Sure. But their comfort and happiness is not my top priority, personally. Clients, even less so. I care about their comfort and happiness for the hours they pay me for, nothing more, and sometimes less, to be honest.
What is a “white cis male sex worker”? I was under the impression that meant strictly hetero. That confuses me because I was under the impression that there is no market for males servicing women for a myriad of reasons that Maggie McNeill so eloquently explained on one of her posts.
“Cis” means “non-trans”–it has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Oh ok I get it. So this “sleazy” guy that Audrey is complaining about, he services male clients and fires his girls who refuse to sleep with him…he’s bisexual…is that correct?
I ran out of nested comments here, but duaneh1: the guy I’m referring to is a straight guy who offers service only to female clients. He’s not bisexual (as far as I know) and he doesn’t see very many clients as there isn’t a huge market of hetero ladies paying for sex. He also fires his female employees who don’t sleep with him.
There are a number of male sex workers for women out there, especially in other countries. They’re not hard to find. They do exist.
IT IS as offensive because it reduces human beings to a slur an epitaph which is absolutely dehumanizing! Considering the abolitionists are working feverishly to equate ALL clients with RAPISTS, the term is morphing into a more evil label as the days pass. They are certainly using words as phycholigical warfare. Didn’t we start using ‘sex worker’ instead of hooker and prostitute in order to effect perceptions and paradigms? We are doing the same in using terminology such as LABOR trafficking as opposed to just sex trafficking. In this context words are VERY powerful. It was a bold move on her part and I personally commend her for it! Our clients are being marginalized and stigmatized and it doesn’t matter what form or reasoning is behind dehumanizing a group of people, whether it’s based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or a persons personal lifestyle choices! If the end result is harm which can be prevented, if it results in the DEHUMANIZATION and with a persons civil rights being violated (clients indeed fit into these categories) it’s the same! DISCRIMINATION which violate human rights. Are our clients human rights not being violated here? Did I miss something?
I don’t agree with using the term “John” (although I am not sure I would go as far as to equating it with a racial slur) because it reinforces the notion that all clients are or identify as male.
That’s a good point, and what about all the COUPLES? I wouldn’t refer to clients as johns because it’s a SLUR, an epithet (my auto correct was previously putting it as epitaph, DOI!) it’s derogatory and is meant to place a dirty mark on the person it’s used to describe. I firmly believe that as sex workers we must not sit idle and allow our clients to be dehumanized and demonized.
I also see “John” as a pejorative (though not racist) and use the term “client” because it’s more humanizing and appropriate for someone who essentially pays my bills. “John” is part of the language used by people who refuse to use the term “sex work” and that really makes me want to not use “John.” That, and no matter how much I may get annoyed by them, clients are humans and I recognize that. (Those who don’t make it to client status because of their stupidity are fair game.)
But unless they’re willing to put their ass on the line with other sex workers — something I’ve so rarely seen — they remain clients and not activists. The most support they’re usually willing to give is money, which is welcome, but it certainly doesn’t give them a say in what happens. Even as strictly clients, and not allies, they risk much less than the average sex worker.
I don’t use John either. I use client, because that’s what they are. Just like if I were a massage therapist or a hair stylist.
The problem here is equating it with a disgusting racial slur connected to centuries of institutional abuse, slavery, and murder. These two things are not in any way comparable or equal.
oh yeah hi. um if you are white, you do not get to compare things to the n word. you don’t get to claim what is or is not as offensive as racial slurs. If Maxine said that, she was out of line, and anyone who is not at any real risk of getting called certain racial slurs needs to take a step back. Sex workers have enough problems, we don’t need to encourage racism among our ranks. P.o.c./w.o.c. who are sex workers don’t need to be alienated because our friends and co-workers to diminish our voices or try to use our history to fit their own agendas. Don’t diminish out pain for your profit.
Is this a thing with US clients now too? If so, I’ve been fortunate to miss it. By and large, they’re too afraid to do anything like be an ally. Some have stepped forward and tried to get involved, and it always ends up with them being needy for free attention, with easily-trampled feelings, and nothing getting accomplished. Or it becomes something like a smaller, more political, review-board group. Pretty much what you just said.
I can think of one man who actually helps.
I agree with this post. I think the Nordic model is contributing to this mentality. Sex workers aren’t safer, healthier, and better supported when their clients are subject to hard criminizalition because it’s still police surveillance, harassment, and processing as victims. I support full decriminalization of sex work, indoor and outdoor, buyer and seller. That said, I have no idea why the sex worker rights movement is taking the tone of client promotion and activism to achieve this. It’s largely a distraction because clients are already included in the struggle for full decriminizalition. Donating our movement’s time, space, and energy to rehashings of sessions won’t achieve that. It’s sad because power always seems to rise to the top and you can’t fight oppression in that climate, it only serves the status quo.
Maybe these client’s hearts are in the right place and just need a little bit of education regarding the hardships sex workers face with respect to issues like child custody, future employment prospects, abuse by LE, etc
Well darling, what you and others so elequently demonstrate, is that there are people doing sex work even by choice, who should not be doing sex work. Yeah I get it, you have a right to survive, you have a right to do with your body as you choose and without interference. I call that SOVEREIGNTY, and anyone who knows me, knows it’s my mantra. But this does not take away the truth that there are indeed many people who would be better off doing something else, society would be better off as well. I have never hesitated to state this.
Did the Grand POOBAH of feminism Gloria Steinum write this posing as a sex worker advocate? Frankly it sounds no different than what she would state were she a sex worker advocate, or what an abolitionist might state!
The author contradicts herself by first stating that clients feelings are being prioritized over sex workers but in the next paragraph admits she feels alone with these feelings. Which is it sweetie? Personally I don’t see where this is happening, in fact I see clients being demonized with impunity! I see sex worker advocates panties in a wad over other sex workers speaking in behalf of clients (which happen to be the primary support of our industry DUH, this is why the abolitionists are targeting them correct?!)
I often say that ideologies need to be left at the door of these discussions and I’m usually talking about abolitionists but this also goes for sex worker advocates. Ideologically driven social engineering is deeply flawed and will always end up disenfranchising some demographic based on the ideological focus. But the more I listen to the rants of feminists, be they abolitionists or sex workers- it confirms my stance that ideologies gotta GO. It’s the perfect way to DERAIL everything. Talk about prioritizing! As a movement we NEED to prioritize what would do the most good for the most people first, which btw doesn’t involve arguing over words, arguing over who is the most marginalized, arguing over ideologies which I like to call idiotologies when they halt progress.
Some people love their anger. They love the resentments they carry around and they love projecting their anger onto others and into discussions. I see a lot of self described feminists doing this. It can be very tricky to honor people who are victims, yet who themselves are acting out in a way that attacks and disenfranchises. Just as it is tricky to demand a self described victim of trafficking to back up their claims (no one wants to question as if it’s a form of victim blaming, but you see this allows for people to LIE in this highly politicized situation, and we have already seen where people have faked victimization for funding).
Am I wrong to say that even if people choose sex work, they may be the last people who should be doing sex work?
I don’t think so. In fact I think it needs to be said MORE. People such as this are much more likely to be harmed if they do not possess the aptitude for sex work, and if they do not understand the implications. People shouldn’t do sex work unless they are doing it from a healthy platform! In my belief, money as the sole motivation to do ANYTHING is not the healthiest platform. This world is pretty screwed up because of this very thing. This is one reason why we need to focus on WHY people do sex work and in a great majority of cases it’s purely for economic reasons.
Why would such a person give a damn about clients when the clients in such an instance are being objectified as nothing more than a means of earning money? Such a personal, intimate exchange as SEX becomes nothing more than that.
WE as providers have the power to raise the energy up, to raise the bar, to demand no less than healthy constructs attached to who we are and what we do and we can change the world this way, through our choices and actions.
Of course this requires that you care about it, to care about the world and not only just yourself and your opinions.
Sure, I won’t say not to do it if you need to feed yourself in a desperate situation, but this person has a responsibility too, to society as well as themselves! Why? If you don’t know the answer to this I’d say you should go do some soul searching.
I’ve been a sex worker since 2001. I’ve worked the street, I have escorted for agencies, I have been a bdsm professional now for over ten years. I’ve worked quite a spectrum and have experienced clients from a variety of circumstances, some very unhealthy but vastly very positive. I attribute this to MY CHOICES. I AM OWNING MY CHOICES AND ACTIONS and the consequences of those choices and actions.
I demand that clients treat me with the upmost respect. Through the way I operate and handle myself professionally I attract clients who are awesome people. People who I cannot sit by and allow to be marginalized and demonized, whether it’s done by abolitionists or sex worker advocates.
I wish more people would OWN responsibility for the consequences of their own choices and behaviors. I wish they would ask themselves what was their part in where they are? It’s easy to blame everyone else or the world for everything. Yes we are wronged but this does not remove personal responsibility.
If you despise men (and their bullshit as you termed it) so much, why are you doing sex work if you are? Or were?
There are horrible people in the world, some of them patronize sex workers. But to broad stroke clients is no different than sex workers being broad stroked, stigmatized and marginalized. How can you separate the providers from the clients as you are doing? This is EXACTLY what the end for demand campaign is doing. It’s futile in both instances.
Yes, sex workers are being persecuted. So are the clients. I agree very much and know for a fact that there is a gross discrepancy in the laws regarding how sex workers are treated as compared to clients. Here in Denver a client with AIDS who knowingly has sex with a sex worker gets a lesser felony than a provider who has aids and is working. Arrested sex workers get a year long deferment program, while clients go for a day program. But is this the clients fault? Or does responsibility rest on the shoulders of the legal system? The same which publicly shames clients by posting their mug shots on the Internet for their families and coworkers to see (before a guilty verdict!).
But am I willing to hate on clients for this? No. And it doesn’t even make rational sense to do so.
Oh if only the world were so simple that you could put everyone and everything in special categories where everything fit perfectly. LOL. it’s never gonna happen.
Try not to support the narrative and agenda of the very people who are trying to shut us up and make us go away. The same people who want to destroy our means of survival. Make sense to you?
I am not a victim. My clients do not victimize me. If you are an independent provider not being forced, perhaps you should consider another line of work. How can your sex work be healthy if you resent men so deeply? What are you doing to your own being in that process?
We must create our own realities, setting the standard. You (meaning everyone in general) DO have the power to do this as long as you are alive. Unless you truly are convinced that you have no power here. In which case I say again, you shouldn’t be doing sex work!! HEALTHY sex work requires that you be empowered.
You are entitled to your views. As I am mine. Once decriminalization is established what do you think the next steps would be? Cleaning up the industry from inside. Establishing a means of self regulation which would involve quality control that protects clients as well as providers. I guess if a provider says she feels it’s her right not to use condems I shouldn’t say anything and that would be irrelevant too? HARDLY. I’m not here to sing kumbaya. I’m here to fight for human rights. Yes I believe it does matter when providers are not healthy especially when you are talking legitimizing sex work but many haven’t bothered to think that far ahead I know.
I’d be regulated right out of the business under your new regime, as would many of the best sex workers’ rights activists, from Emi Koyama on up. You’d basically be creating the new criminalization of survival sex workers in such a model of “decrim.”
Caty Simon, That is you jumping to conclusions imagining the worst I assure you. I started out doing survival sex work myself. Eventually as I worked to get into a healthier place, I realized that I had a responsibility to myself first and foremost, then also to the greater culture- to be living and working from a healthy platform where I was or I needed to change my path to make that happen. Under very adverse circumstances I managed to do it. I believe that some people underestimate the power that they have to create their life to be what they want it to be.
By quality control I’m referring to providers themselves maintaining high standards of safety and operation (many already do) who collectively support the sex worker community with education, services, perhaps establishing unions, etc. you won’t see me supporting any form of government regulation.
Are you saying you can’t or you won’t provide your services with a standard of health and protocol? Can you not engage in survival sex work and do it with the highest standard of operation possible under your circumstances? Such as practicing safely?
How exactly would you be regulated out?
FIRST we need to get laws changed! This can happen through challenging the government through filing a legal case. Know of such a thing? Why YES! The Erotic Service Providers case, an effort being headed up by Maxine Doogan. Is anyone else working on such a case? I’m not aware of it. Please inform me if there is. If you understand how government works, then you know this has to happen. Does it matter who does it? Not really. It just needs to be done damn it!
We MUST challenge the law and aggressively fight for decriminalization and do you know why? Do you have any idea how much harder your lives, and the lives of clients are going to get if abolitionists succeed in further criminalizing us? How about if they succeed in federalizing prostitution laws first? Currently it is a state by state issue.
Theoretically it should be easier to get prostitutuon decriminalized than it was to get marijuana decriminalized based on this fact. Too bad there isn’t more cohesiveness in our movement or we could have already raised the money for that case ten times over by now! I’ve heard that organizing marijuana advocates was like herding cats, but look at what they have accomplished! LOL. There was a time when marijuana opponents laughed at marijuana activists.
Whose laughing now?
How about this: establishing programs which help people to not have to do survival sex work in the first place!? I love this idea how about you? If we sex workers established more power we ourselves could make this happen! And as far as those people who truly want to do sex work, let it be from a healthy platform where something awesome is being contributed to individuals lives as well as society on the whole.
It is about THRIVING not just surviving. I want you to THRIVE.
Yes there should be a standard and sex workers themselves should establish and maintain that standard. It can and should be done without government involvement. Massage therapists did it. Ironically they did so because they were tired of being stigmatized as sex workers (and they wanted to legitimize their work to insurance companies to make more money of course).
I too think a number of activists are truly the cats meow, I love them, admire them and I am very grateful for their diligence, But I feel that every person actually doing this work is equally valuable (I’m not talking sitting behind a PC writing in threads I’m talking about people who are kicking up dirt getting things done, investing their time and money, risking their asses while others sit back debating and blogging). Frankly, if half the people who sit at their computers arguing and expressing their opinions on these topics would actually get out and get involved that would really be something.
We need more people! We need to see torches being passed around more, more of a share in this great responsibility and it is. People have made great sacrifices and for all you know, the ‘best’ as you put it, sex worker activists go unnamed and anonymous.
Why are people here if not to get things done? I’m not here to get credit I’m here to get things accomplished to establish change and I don’t care if anyone ever knows it!
None of us will be remembered 100 years from now. But what we ACHIEVE as activists can make a difference 100 years from now! THATS THE REAL POINT ISNT IT?
Sure, I absolutely agree that policy activism is very important, though I don’t agree that creating an activist sex worker culture by running blogs like this one isn’t just as important to the movement.
I think you’d probably regulate me out b/c although I practice safer sex diligently and try to serve my clients in the best way I can, I do drugs, so I’d assume you’d think I’m “not working from a healthy place,” or however you put it. I’m sure other reasons would apply to other sex workers, and such in-house regulation would basically turn into a clique-fest of the haves and have-nots. One of the reasons sex work is so persistent in society is b/c its something people can turn to for work when no other options are available to them, and standards set by privileged sex workers wouldn’t stop that phenomenon. It’d just leave people who do so pushed out in the cold by their peers. I agree that sex workers should work with other activists to provide resources so that people who don’t want to have to do sex work if they don’t want to, don’t have to. However, until we live in an economic utopia in which no one has to do sex work unless it’s their true calling, regulation by sex worker of the profession sounds like structural violence by higher class sex workers against lower class sex workers to me.
Privileged? I CRAWLED UP FROM HITTING ROCK BOTTOM scratching and tearing my way up out of a living hell. I had no family support, no friends (junkies are not friends) I was totally alone. I have fought and worked my ass off for everything I have. NOTHING CAME EASY. I got involved in sex work advocacy after being stalked harassed and assaulted and then terrorized into not reporting.
Oh yes I’ve come a long way from that juncture.
Boy am I calling MAJOR BULLSHIT on the privileged comment you just made.
Maybe some people just don’t want to own responsibility. Could be.
I didn’t call you privileged, I wrote that the sex workers who would have the power to regulate other sex workers in such a system would no doubt be privileged sex workers.
Good god, woman, save it for the deposition.
I don’t know who this was directed to since the formatting is screwed up, but just in case this is directed at me, no one is suing me because they were being ridiculous in threatening it. There are no depositions.
It was directed toward DOMINA ELLE and her little triumph over adversity bootstrap speech up there.
I am glad that you are not being sued for anything, though. Going to court is stressful and it sucks.
Phew ok. My mind was making that comment into a reference to the frivolous lawsuits that I mentioned in my comment, and continued doing so after Caty told me that she really didn’t think that the comment was about that. So thank you for clarifying.
There are no depositions. There were frivolous threats but no one is actually suing me.
And let’s be honest, “people who do so” are *already* pushed out in the cold by their peers, and it is hugely damaging and worsens their situations considerably.
This was supposed to be a reply to Caty’s comment two comments up.
Not sure why the comments format isn’t allowing me to reply directly to Domina’s most recent comment to me, but here’s me trying to reproduce my comment in the thread:
Sure, I absolutely agree that policy activism is very important, though I don’t agree that creating an activist sex worker culture by running blogs like this one isn’t just as important to the movement.
I think you’d probably regulate me out b/c although I practice safer sex diligently and try to serve my clients in the best way I can, I do drugs, so I’d assume you’d think I’m “not working from a healthy place,” or however you put it. I’m sure other reasons would apply to other sex workers, and such in-house regulation would basically turn into a clique-fest of the haves and have-nots. One of the reasons sex work is so persistent in society is b/c its something people can turn to for work when no other options are available to them, and standards set by privileged sex workers wouldn’t stop that phenomenon. It’d just leave people who do so pushed out in the cold by their peers. I agree that sex workers should work with other activists to provide resources so that people who don’t want to have to do sex work if they don’t want to, don’t have to. However, until we live in an economic utopia in which no one has to do sex work unless it’s their true calling, regulation by sex workers of the profession sounds like structural violence by higher class sex workers against lower class sex workers to me.
If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t be advocating for mental/emotional qualifiers for people in the business – especially, as Caty notes, restrictions which would discriminate against so many of us, myself included. (Probably most of my sex worker friends, too.) If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t give a fuck about reasons why, or how someone feels, because we’re talking about HUMAN RIGHTS, and none of that has a damn thing to do with what we DESERVE.
“If you were here to fight for human rights, you wouldn’t be advocating for emotional/mental qualifiers for people in the business”
Actually, I promote that ALL humans take responsibility for how they impact the world regardless of which vocation we could be talking about. I think it is unfortunate for anyone who works in a job that they don’t want to do, which is a great many people isn’t it? They are forced to work in jobs that make them unhappy. Few people are doing what they love. When you do what you love it makes you happy. I want all people to be healthy and happy.
Do you think this is wrong of me? I think if ALL people took responsibility for themselves and what they are contributing to the world as well as how they impact things, this world would be a lot better for everyone.
It is my personal wish that sex work would be performed by the human beings most suited to do it and who will thrive doing it. Is this wrong of me?
I even stated I wouldn’t try to stop someone from choosing to do sex work out of desperation or for reasons I don’t agree with. I get it. I’m not entitled to tell people what they can and cannot do. THERES THAT SOVEREIGNTY AGAIN.
Though I can still wish that sex work would never be done with less than the healthiest of reasons, circumstances and motives, I can also wish for the world banking system to fail, or for the military industrial complex to crumble in ashes. I won’t be holding my breath on any of these topics, LOL.
Show me. I am very willing to learn. Help me to see if I’m not seeing something.
Elle can have a personal wish that everyone finds fulfilling work that they love and that feeds their soul. It is not her business to dictate what that work should be, or what that looks like for that person. It is also an impossible standard, and it is not her place to tell someone that if they can’t find that in their work, then they are not allowed to work (in any job, most people cannot find this in any job) at all and should just starve. It is also not her place to judge a person’s commitment to “personal responsibility” harshly because they do not share her (massively fucked up) values and are living their life according to their values rather than according to hers. Actually I think in general that phrase just tends to mean, “I am nosy and judgmental and I know absolutely nothing about you.” Elle does not stick to her “personal wishes” about other people’s work and lives. She might not admit it, but she thinks she has a right to go way, way beyond that.
Actually, I think the client whose review you posted was pretty balanced. You show zero insight into what it is like to live with bpd, which is what motivated him to book het 6 weeks out. Nowhere does it say he called her repeatedly, just he booked earlier.
Of course we don’t want want clients explaining our experience. They are part of the ibdustry though.
I am disturbed by how saying ‘ white cis gendered male/female’ prior to totally discounting
that persons statement is becoming a thing. If you do not wish to be discounted yourself because of you colour or gender, don’t do it to other people either. And stop whining about privilege! Get on, do the work.
Would you believe a whole Deaf rights movement was managed without the word privilege being mentioned? We got sex work decriminalised in NZ without needing it.
Hmmm, as someone diagnosed with bpd, I’d have to say I don’t quite understand this client’s actions, either.
He says “we exchanged emails several times” which I suppose could mean normal pre-booking communication (“are you available this day/time” “no sorry, how about this day/time” “sure that’s fine” type of thing) but judging by the context it sounds to me more like he wanted to have extended conversations on her time for free. Which would certainly irritate me, and most sex workers I know.
Not even going to touch those comments about privilege…
“With their real names”? Yeah maybe in Canada dude.
To clarify – wanting everyone to use their real names in an environment in which they are criminalized (and getting sabotaged by other activists with no compunction about researching them and enacting petty revenge) is actually pretty horrifying.
I think this escort doesn’t like their clients, and its so problematic that we just discount their voices. Many of our clients are standing up for sex workers and many of them have donated money to our legal challenge and other organizations. Clients have faced the same discrimination and stigma that sex workers face, however since they are not stalked and arrested as much, people like to ASSUME that they have not been hurt by criminalization. I also found it problematic that this person goes on about “those who claim they do sex work because they have to” well this is a REALITY for most sex workers I know’ as they have decided sex work is the best option for them, because they don’t see any other alternative that pays a living wage. Lets face it we all do it for the money. Another problematic statement was that clients don’t recolonize their privileged, and I am sure some of them don’t and some of them do, as I have been told that as a white cis sex worker I have no right speaking for sex workers. This is IRONIC because the majority of US sex workers are white cis women, and this isn’t about who has it worse, this is about all of us that are being oppressed and discriminated against and criminalized. I am the first to admit that law enforcment targets people of color and people living in poor communities. If the sex workers don’t stand up for our clients, we will see the Nordic model spreading from country to country. They are already starting to target our clients with huge verse stings from coast to coast, and these men are publicly shamed, forced into JOHN schools, and they even have a website that logs in any number that calls a a fake escort ad to further shame them. I am in no way saying that all clients care about sex worker or the plight we face, but many of them do, so to discount the voices of our clients is problematic and defeats our goal of getting the government out of the sex lives of consenting adults. Our clients are being portrayed as predators by the media and the abolitionists. 30 years ago there were very few sex workers that would come out publicly because of the public shame and harassment, so its makes perfect sense that the clients may take a while to come out, after all many of our clients have families and jobs that they would lose if they came out publicly. It also hard to fight the end of the demand campaign if sex workers don’t stand up for their clients,. I often refer to the industry as THE ADULT COMMUNITY and our clients make up more than half of our community as I recently read that there are 10 clients for each active sex worker, which means there are way more clients than there are sex workers. So my question is, would you want to be apart of a community that said you have no voice and you doesn’t matter.
“Clients have faced the same discrimination and stigma that sex workers face…”
Yes, criminalization and stigma hurts clients too. Just like the patriarchy hurts men too, racial stereotypes can hurt white people, and heteronormativity can hurt cis straight people. Those hurts are real, and shouldn’t be dismissed, but they are not equivalent to the bigotry that actual people who are the victims of discrimination face.
I agree with you that it’s harmful for our clients to be portrayed as predators or rapists, like the abolitionists like to do, but I don’t see anyone here making those arguments, simply saying that their self-serving activism is unhelpful, and centering the conversation on their feelings and needs is often harmful to our fight for human rights.
I appreciate this. I don’t care about clients either. In fact, I see their interests as fundamentally opposed to my interests, beyond the issue of decriminalization. I certainly won’t expend any energy trying to “defend” them to the public.
“In fact, I see their interests as fundamentally opposed to my interests, beyond the issue of decriminalization.”
BP puts it so clearly and succinctly. My role as a worker is to get paid as much as possible for my labour under conditions that best support my wellbeing. The client’s role is to extract as much unpaid labour as he can — to get value for his money. There is no such thing as an “ally” client.
“Zander Falcon” decided to track me down on Twitter and DM me a guilt-trip over comment above:
“‘There is no such thing as an “ally” client.’ your words on tits&sass comments. Sorry you think so ill of me & my trying to raise SW voices.”
You don’t like that your interests are necessarily opposed to those of them women you pay to fuck? Talk to capitalism.
As far as “trying to raise SW voices” goes, well, thanks, but I can raise my own. Watch!
DON’T FUCKING STALK ME TO WHINE ABOUT HOW I SAID SOMETHING YOU DON’T LIKE ON A BLOG, YOU ENTITLED, CONTROLLING, PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PIECE OF SHIT.
There is no such thing as an “ally” client.
Hair stylists, Nail techs, Doctors, Lawyers, etc don’t express the same contempt for their clients like so many Sex workers seem to do. If a sex worker truly can’t stand their clients then they need to find another line of work. Such open hostility to those whose livelihood’s they depend upon only give more fodder to those who want to see their profession destroyed.
1) It’s not contempt, it’s anger at clients who presume to speak for them and 2) they most certainly do complain about their bad clients/patients/customers, you’re just not (for whatever oh-so-mysterious reason) hanging out on their websites, blogs, and message boards.
My wife is a hair stylist and yes, she does have some “bad” clients and she has a blog about her line of work. However, she would never…I repeat never…post an article degrading any of her clients and to post something like “I don’t care about Clients” would be the epitome of stupidity of anyone in her profession or anyone else in a profession that caters to personal services…except apparently, sex work.
Duane1 I totally agree with you. Others here will find it totally flawed- in my opinion because they can’t see beyond the loop running in their heads. We all get that way, including myself, especially when it’s an emotional topic. I practice regularly stepping out of my ‘norm’ and proactively attempting to see things from every vantage point which I can imagine as well as SINCERELY trying to see things from an opponents vantage point (try it people I DARE YOU)
There are indeed a myriad of circumstances in the realm of sex work! Sex workers cannot be broad stroked, lol.
More ways in which that analogy does not work:
– Hair stylist, nail tech, doctor, and lawyer are fully legalized professions; they do not work in the shadows.
– Violence at the hands of clients/customers/LE is not enough of a workplace risk that they feel the need to use a buddy system, create a “bad date” alert, or in any way alter modify their behavior.
– If they were assaulted while working, a hair stylist, nail tech, doctor, or lawyer wouldn’t be afraid to report to police or seek medical care, as they would have no reason to expect shaming, or fear arrest, when admitting they were working when they were raped.
“If a sex worker truly can’t stand their clients then they need to find another line of work.” You’re either a client, an idiot, or both.
I couldn’t imagine working as personal services professional and being disgusted by ALL my clients. But again, perhaps I’m the one who is Abbey Normal or perhaps this is what makes Sex work unique from other service professions, since I’m not a sex worker I have to concede I wouldn’t know.
No one is talking here about being disgusted by all their clients. You’re making all sorts of false assumptions about sex work as unique, simply b/c, as has been said, you don’t hang around in industry forums where other professions complain about their customers. For some reason you are hanging around in a site by and for sex workers, though.
You are full of shit, dude. How many “nail techs” do you know…? Also, I was partnered with a physician for five years, and the things he said about his patients would turn your hair white.
Your comment has nothing to do with the article. You are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile. Sorry, dude, but we don’t owe you love–only service for payment rendered. If you want a woman to really love you, you’ll have to cultivate a relationship with her and love her back. I understand that might be beyond your reach.
I have compassion for my clientele and I give as much of myself, emotionally, as I safely can. But in my career as a fetish sex worker, I have been mistreated and emotionally/psychologically vandalized in ways that I have never been in any other profession. Clients who are emotionally evolved and have two brain cells to rub together recognize this and don’t get bent out of shape when I screen or treat them with caution the first time around.
Why am I even responding to this troglodyte? I’m out.
“you are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile.”
EXACTLY. Spoiler alert: It’s an act, I don’t actually find my clients attractive or special, and they mean nothing to me beyond the $
“You are just a client venting his hurt feelz that the facsimile of adoration that you pay for is just that–a facsimile.” Jeezus Christ…So I’m now a nasty “client”, when I posted on Equality Now’s facebook page defending sex workers I was labeled a “Pimp”. No, I am not a terrible “client”, A friend and I did hire a couple of hookers in Mexico when we were 19, they had some weed, we all got high and fucked on the same bed-was fun but I’ve never done that again and now I’m 49. My wife always tells me about her bad clients but still her good clients makeup for the minority of her bad ones. She loves her profession and finds it rewarding that her clients feel beautiful after she’s finished with them. I’m fully aware that sex workers have no feelings towards their clients other than the money, as Maggie McNeil puts it, she is an “Entertainer” and if she puts on a good show, she’ll get repeat business. I have no dog in this fight other than I’m a staunch libertarian and the Government has no business regulating what consensual adults do in their bedroom. For years, I’ve defended Mormon Polygamists and even made friends with a couple of them despite my status as an Agnostic.
So true!!!! “If you want a woman to really love you, you’ll have to cultivate a relationship with her and love her back. I understand that might be beyond your reach.”
I have seen an anonymous lawyer blog or two ranting about stupid clients. Then there are blogs like Waiter Rant. I’m sure there are blogs like that for every job.
Since you mentioned legal professions, it’s probably far easier for them to find someone in their real life to vent to (like hiring an escort and spending an hour venting to her about their stupid clients). Sex workers often don’t have trusted confidantes in their real life, and so we vent online, anonymously. This skews your sampling and perspective but people are people and everyone vents about the idiots they encounter in their jobs.
Of course all professionals will have bad or stupid clients, as I’ve said, my wife has had plenty of bad clients and she doesn’t hesitate to give me all the details. But this was a general attack on “all clients”.
It wasn’t a general attack on all clients, just clients doing activism in a wrongheaded, presumptuous manner.
Yes I get it about the client activism. Maybe if she titled her post “I don’t care about Client Activists”, perhaps it wouldn’t have set so many people off…including me.
“Sex workers often don’t have trusted confidantes in their real life…”
And even when we do, they’re often not fellow sex workers, and they won’t understand the nature of our venting! When I complain about sex work issues to non-sex-working friends, they look at me blankly; it’s only online that I have a whole /community/ of fellow sex workers to complain to.
I don’t see any self serving activism going on by clients or have I missed these huge headlines in the media regarding this. This isn’t a contest about “who has it worse” its about standing up for all our rights, and I don’t see clients running any sex worker rights organizations. I am sure the abolitionists are laughing their asses off, as no doubt this article will be targeted with headlines like “look even prostitutes don’t like their client and won’t stand up for them so we need to criminalize them” . If this was really about clients being activists, why was it not titled “Don’t you hate when non sex workers play the activist. Then there would have been no need to UTTERLY BASH OUR CLIENTS and publicly state that they don;t matter. Surely we can come up with better language than this. Then these terms like “self serving, and their needs before the needs of sex workers”. Please attack some links that shows our clients doing this. If your accusing them of doing this, then tell us who they are. There seems to be a HUGE BUZZ around about who represents who. Personally I represent MYSELF and I allow other activists to represent me too.
Mental health professionals work with clients on personal level pretty much on par with sex workers…am I wrong? Are there any blogs by Psychiatrists and Mental health professionals degrading and disparaging their clients?? I guess that is one reason why their occupation is treated with respect while sex workers are so often labeled as “victims” and otherwise stigmatized.
Do you really not see any difference in the professional codes of conduct between mental health workers and sex workers? Or the difference in our client bases? No? Carry on then.
<Do you really not see any difference in the professional codes of conduct between mental health workers and sex workers? Or the difference in our client bases? No? Carry on then.<
No I personally do not see the difference.
Perhaps this has to do with the MOTIVES for which I do sex work compared to yours? Not to mention how I conduct myself.
There’s a lot of people out there who would dispute this about how she “conducts” herself. Like holy shit. Also, pretty sure Lori does sex work to support herself as do you so actually you would have exactly the same motives.
Haha wow This is just incredible. It’s like Respectable Sex Worker bingo
(As for a mod stepping in, Lori, unfortunately she hasn’t violated the letter of the law, yet.)
I don’t know what the “letter of the law” is here at T&S, but the ableism in these comments is really awful.
Honestly, I do want our movement to have room for multiple voices, even ones that I disagree with, but fuck this is hard to read without feeling triggered.
As people have explained to you above when you posted THE EXACT SAME COMMENT except using nail technicians and hairdressers as examples, psychiatrists and mental health professionals are stigmatised and criminalised by society. Do you hear jokes about dead psychiatrists or see disgusting negative portrayals of people in the mental health industry every time you turn on the television? Does one have to hide being a shrink from their family and loved ones? Does one risk arrest for being a mental health nurse? I think even you are smart enough to know the answers to the above. Now take your chest thumping man-pain and go somewhere else because you’re repeating yourself and it’s boring.
The power dynamic is also flipped entirely between a mental health professional and a client, and a sex worker and a client.
>The power dynamic is also flipped entirely between a mental health professional and a client, and a sex worker and a client.<
When it comes to consensual sex work- NOT SO unless that is allowed by the provider!!! I dare say you and others here are TOTALLY supporting the abolitionist narrative and you don't even see that do you??
AGAIN, this work is best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it. It IS therapy under such conditions, healthy for the clients and the providers!
There are many people here who do not seem to understand what TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for one's actions means. It's every one else's fault. It's about gender, it's about class and privilege, it's about racism, but it all boils down to a bunch of pie holes spouting off and never actually DOING anything but HOLDING THINGS BACK!!!!
To be seen as a professional YOU NEED TO BEHAVE AS ONE.
Look in the mirror dude. I take responsibility for everything I have done and I really, really don’t think you can say the same. You act less professional than practically everyone everywhere. I take absolute responsibility for my actions but I sure as fuck don’t take responsibility for racism, sexism, etc. Do you really want to put all that shit on us?
“Work best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it” At what point can a mod step in to stop her here?
Sadly she hasn’t actually violated the letter of the law–yet.
Good god, get the fuck outta here with that nonsense. Telling us we’re essentially our own oppressors because we don’t live a life as charmed as yours?
I’m happy you take so much pride and enjoyment in your work, I really am. Even though we disagree fundamentally on justice and compassion and the idea, as flawed as it may be sometimes, of a community of people in sex work. Even though you’ve said some offensive and hateful (though you may not see it as such) statements towards myself and the many, many others who don’t love every aspect of how we pay the rent, particularly the criminalization which makes sex workers the perfect target for violence, be it from clients or institutions. Even though I think it is YOU who is bad for the movement. But I feel no bitterness that you see such value in your work. I will still fight with every molecule in my body for your – our – right to health, safety, love, and freedom from oppression, just like I would for anyone who tricks in the club or on the corner or gets $2000 to sleep with a politician without a condom.
I wish you felt the same way about us.
“AGAIN, this work is best left to human beings who are healthy enough to do it. It IS therapy under such conditions, healthy for the clients and the providers!”
First: who are you, the Sex Work Gatekeeper? What sort of authoritarian self-righteous bullshit is this? Are you going to make the selection?
How long have you been in this industry? I’ve been a fetish worker–Prodomme and Prosub–off and on for several years.
I ask because while I agree completely that sadomasochism can be therapeutic and a joyous expression of sexuality (among other things), I’ve been around long another to know, for a fact, that some clients are engaging in repetition compulsion, sex addiction, and various other hostile or destructive behaviors. Elle, we work at the apex of sex and violence and we carry out scenes of ritualized oppression. I do not believe that making this simple observation constitutes pathologizing clients or providers.
Without taking a position on the general subject of this post, I do want to point out something. The blog that you linked to, Stories From Behind the Red Light, is described as being “an entire blog dedicated to telling the stories of punters”. It isn’t – it’s just that a punter’s story is the last post to the blog, and hence is what comes up first when you go to the home page. And the reason there’s an article titled “Women only sell sex because they have to” is because it’s an Irish blog and at the time it was posted, Ruhama were running an ad campaign in Ireland with that theme. The article is written by a sex worker and is clearly arguing against the proposition in the title.
I’d also thank you not to use pejorative terms when talking about injection drug users.
I think calling clients “punters” is OFFENSIVE AS HELL. and when clients are bringing up their own experiences in the red light blog doesn’t make them activists. LOL
Too bad nobody is concerned over all the NON SEX WORKERS that are running sex worker right organizations, as there are way more of them and they are doing a lot more damage then the clients on that redlight blog.
Calling clients “PUNTERS is OFFENSIVE AS HELL. Claiming that clients who discussed their own experiences and opinions on the redlight blog, as activism is a bit much.
Too bad nobody is concerned about all the NON SEX WORKERS that are running organizations as they seem to be harming our movement more than the clients on the red light blog and there are a lot more of them too.
Can you be more specific about the non sex workers running sex work orgs? I’m asking out of real curiosity, the US orgs I’m aware of have current or former sex workers in the leadership positions. Is this a thing in other countries? Are you calling out specific orgs?
I don’t think this was about non sex workers running sex work orgs, but about clients trying to do activism in sex workers’ steads. I’ve heard about a lot of small, local examples, but a large scale example we were talking about in a discussion about this post on the Scarlet Alliance Facebook page is the notorious hands off my whores campaign in France.
I know of at least one sex worker org run by a hobby ho. This person was an upper-class student who turned a few tricks for fun and parlayed that into a career as a high profile sex worker activist.
Clients call THEMSELVES “punters.” I myself call them “clients.”
I am unfailingly gracious with them (unless they’re masochists and specifically request otherwise), but I do not respect or like all of them…and I don’t think that is a problem.
“I don’t feel obligated to engage in emotional care-taking outside of bookings.”
“including a particularly whiny dudebro”. I agree with you when you say you don’t they way clients try carry out sex work activism. During the civil rights era, Whites who spoke out against Jim Crow and defended African-Americans often came across sounding just as racist as KKK and segregationist leaders. Like I originally said “Maybe these client’s hearts are in the right place and just need a little bit of education…”, what I mean is that perhaps they are in need of sensitivity training and perhaps sex workers would be best qualified to give them that.
“Give us sensitivity training!”
Truly, there is no end to the needs of men…
There is something uniquely offensive, though, about the acknowledgement that you are a rude, insensitive asshole, and then demanding that women invest their personal time and attention to “train” you to be a decent human being.
I think that you are too conceited to be teachable, but if you really want lessons in “sensitivity training,” I’ll charge you what I charge to prepare students for the GRE: $80/hour.
Hell of a bargain. I charge three times that for domination.
“…the relationship between sex worker and client isn’t one of friendship; it’s a business transaction and one in which my bests interests aren’t always going to line up with theirs, e.g. its in my best interests to get paid the maximum I can for my labor, but that’s clearly not in the clients’ best interests. Pretending that we’re buddies and “in this together” ignores a materialist analysis of the fundamental relationship between worker and client.”
This is also so very true of most of the legal professions referenced above, like doctors, lawyers, estheticians — no surprise the same holds true for us. This is one of the reasons sex work is work, a concept some male “allies” seem to still have trouble with accepting (which comes around to one of the reasons behind your entire post). There are certainly times when a relationship with a client becomes something like friends with benefits (he has his needs effortlessly met, she gets a good-paying, regular, safe client) but it’s not the rule by any stretch. Nor does it mean she throws her boundaries out the window, stops making decisions that benefit her first, and she still bears the brunt of whore stigma and criminalization.
“it’s a business transaction and one in which my bests interests aren’t always going to line up with theirs, e.g. its in my best interests to get paid the maximum I can for my labor, but that’s clearly not in the clients’ best interests. Pretending that we’re buddies and “in this together” ignores a materialist analysis of the fundamental relationship between worker and client.”
I was having trouble articulating this exact point, thank-you. I consider clients to play the role of the “bosses” in the struggle for worker’s rights. They want to extract the most time and services from me at the lowest cost to them. They don’t especially care for my health/safety if it doesn’t align with the services they demand. They expect “off the clock” emotional labor, and do not value my free time as my OWN time.
Of course, once in a while you get an exception to this. But when I was working in retail and food service and in other industries I occasionally got “nice” bosses as well. Doesn’t change the power dynamic. One of us needs to eat, the other has money to spare.
“For some reason you are hanging around in a site by and for sex workers, though.” Caty, I bookmarked this blog over a year ago because I believe sex worker rights are everyone’s rights…”right to privacy, no business govt. in our bedrooms, etc.” I’m not a client, nor a pimp, nor a sex worker. Is it weird, unusual, and strange for someone like me to be “hanging around” a “site by and for sex workers”? That was a rhetorical question.
No, it’s not, I’m just saying that you’re more likely to hear sex workers talk about their clients b/c a sex worker blog is more exciting to read then, say, a bulletin board for hair stylists. Sorry, that came across poorly–of course we like potential allies viewing our site.
Of course sex workers stories are more exciting to read about than those by Hair stylists. I just don’t think it is a good idea for sex workers to provide fodder for self righteous tarts like Rachel Moran, Alice Schwarzer, Nicholas Kristoff, Megan Murphy…to name a few.
1. I sincerely apologize for carelessly mixing up your pronouns earlier in this thread.
2. Thank you for this followup comment, you’ve clarified your position very well, and I (still) agree 100%. And can I get a HELL YEAH for not expending emotional energy on clients outside of bookings. Seriously, in what other profession (other than perhaps childcare, which is also fucked up) are workers expected to care deeply about their clients around the clock regardless of how much/when they’re getting paid?
3. Yet again, so well said. Good intentions are lovely and all, and I’m sure that many of these activist-y clients have good intentions, but like all privileged people they need to first listen to the people who know what they’re talking about, and only then proceed to speak and help.
Ok I give you a Hell Yeah. I didn’t realize many clients expected their “service providers” to care deeply about them outside of the work.
Good lord, yes yes yes yes. Thank you. For this comment and this piece and just being you generally. I just want to walk around with a sign that says, “I don’t care unless you pay me. And even then I’m probably just pretending,” and this piece made my mean little heart melt in solidarity.
Wait, wait, wait, you guys. Hairstylists do not blog about clients *because there is a code.* A cone of silence. It’s a thing with stylists not to talk about the punters – I have even overheard my stylist telling the assistants not to discuss the clients with other clients. Just saying.
Oh gee I wonder if you talk about them with other hairstylists, if you would do so if one of them assaulted you, and if they write sexually explicit reviews of you online with regards to your criminalized profession that can be accessed by law enforcement.
Did you tell your clients NOT to write reviews? You will not find any reviews about me on the internet other than what I have approved because I demand this of my clients.
Me thinks some people don’t want to be empowered because it means they have to OWN RESPONSIBILITY.
I think ANYONE can overcome ANY ODDS if they are determined enough!!
Right, the rest of us are all whiny, unprofessional, evaders of responsibility, whereas you’re a diamond in the rough. We’ve never given our clients therapeutic services or taken pride in our profession, but if we’d just exert some will power then we could rise above situations like criminalization, racism, poverty, etc entirely. Oh, and of course you’re the only activist here–the rest of us just sit around on our asses and complain on the internet.
And I know this is patently obvious to most people but it is still irritating me…like she does not seem to realize that 1) sometimes people need to use that as a business strategy and 2) you can tell them not to do it and they will still do it. At the high end and at the low end. If there are decade-old reviews out there of me or something then I wouldn’t even have realized at the time that they did such a thing. Others won’t see anyone who doesn’t have them. Hell there was that man who was using his review site to extort sex and then hired a hit-man on a sex worker that he outed…and that was written about here, and Elle certainly seems to read this blog. But I don’t know what her deal is really. Beyond that she likes to show the same behavior as that man and research the real names of other activists and then enact revenge for seemingly no reason. It is frankly pretty sociopathic. Also, she and this other woman think everyone is me. I think at this point they think maybe 20-30+ people who are not me, are. Other members of SWOP, random internet commenters, everyone really. I don’t know why this is.
I know, these hos just need to pull themselves up by their own bra straps!
Hairstylist love to gossip, just maybe not your hairstylist.
“I have seen clients get involved and then make people uncomfortable, flirt endlessly, and treat the groups as venues for finding dates. I have seen a male bisexual sex worker/sometimes-client tell women in a group I have been in that he went home and masturbated to them after a protest. That’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Thank you for expanding on my question, Robin.
I think we need to have a whole thread just to rant about the cis male bisexual sex workers. One recently hit on me *via an activist listserv*. Another routinely offers ‘business opportunites’ to new, young women sex workers. Vom.
Yep, I’m aware of at least one of those people – as you know quite well. Aware of/was unfortunately briefly involved with? Yeah. Awesome. And the man I referenced above was a friend of his! This guy knows how to pick ’em, let me tell you (*cough*). Also, I’m pretty certain that the men that Jolene and Audrey reference are not the same men as any of these. Probably.
I rolled my eyes so hard at this string of replies by petulant clients, hysteronic dommes, and black and white thinkers that I think I sprained something. “I don’t want to center a movement around the destigmatizing of tricks/johns/clients” ≠ “I hate all clients and I need you to explain to me why I shouldn’t be in the sex industry”. If your reading skills don’t enable you to distinguish between the two then maybe you should get off the internet. Also if you think that the word ‘john’ is comparable to the n word then I suggest not only getting off the internet but taking a vow of silence for the good of the community.
>2) My personal feelings about clients is completely irrelevant to this conversation.Sex work, like most professions, doesn’t require me to have any particular feelings towards my clients and the fact that a few people (including a particularly whiny dudebro, lol) are getting so angry about my refusal to expend emotional energy towards them is pretty staggering and in my opinion indicative of precisely the kind of entitlement I’m talking about in the piece.What the hell? Talk about ad hominem arguments.I’m sorry not everyone can be as privileged as you are but many people do engage in survival sex work and if our activism isn’t centered around them and their needs then we are failing considerably. The kind of people who can dismiss the most marginalized among us are also the kind of people who are least likely to be on the wrong end of criminalization.<
Privileged? What a CROCK!! Are you referring to ME? Not sure, because you didn't name me. But I am going to guess yes based on the whole comment.
The activism should be centered around challenging the law! To establish DECRIMINALIZATION which would effect EVERY sex worker regardless of what their circumstances are. Have you gotten behind that effort? Well!!!!????????
Activism requires people to get off their asses and DO SOMETHING. Rather than just having opinions.
KNOW how to help? It's obvious most of the sex workers don't know how to help so why are you alienating clients out of the equation?
And just LOOK AT THE TITLE OF THE OP….Do you think this helped?!
Not sure I think I partly accidentally deleted my post.
>2) My personal feelings about clients is completely irrelevant to this conversation.Sex work, like most professions, doesn’t require me to have any particular feelings towards my clients<
This is what is wrong with most professions!! It's just about the money. There was a time when people took great pride in themselves and what they did, and why.
“There was a time when people took great pride in themselves and what they did, and why.” This is, and always has been, a fantasy of privilege. There have always been people who did the work they did, whatever kind of work it was, *only* in order to make money.
oh my god; thank YOU thank YOU THANK YOU! i am sharing this with everyone i know and pretty sure it should be required reading for everyone. where i am it is currently ‘trendy’ in the industry to defend the clients rights over our own, to badmouth blacklist systems & those who use them and to overall just degrade us as women and workers in general. i have no idea why so many ladies are falling into this but they are. i am so glad i’m not the only one who feels this way! THANK YOU again!
Excuse me but sex workers are now *badmouthing blacklist systems*???!?
I doubt there is anything I can ever say that you would want to hear from myself. While I have always considered myself a Human Rights Activist first and a sex work client 11th or 12th, I will only ever be seen as a client here. I hope you read this because I agree with you for the vast majority of what you say. Sex worker rights are about sex workers and should be heard from them. Clients who want to help should ask how and follow the lead of sex workers. Never speak for them, never speak over them, and in many cases just never speak at all. Giving money to a SWOP so they can organize what needs doing, combating stigma, or just not perpetuating the client review board mentality.
When I wrote that piece on How I Became A Client, I wrote it for my own blog on mental health and personal life. At the time it had nothing to do with any sex work activism. It being posted elsewhere does not show it’s original context (the other posts). I hope it shows that people can make mistakes early on in learning to be an activist though and change. I do feel I changed and learned as I went on.
As an activist, not as a client, I tried to bring local awareness to situations and raise the voices of others. If I had to speak myself, I tried to keep to Human Rights. If we are going to keep using that blog post as a reference as to why I should not speak up please consider adding the more public ones I add here:
(when it went to a vote before City Council I had gotten 10 people from the strip club industry to each speak publicly in front of City Council…there own voices)
(because of my previous public activism the reporter sought me out when no local sex worker at that time was willing to go on record…again I avoided speaking for sex worker)
(this is a debate that was on live radio between myself and a Pastor regarding the Nordic model with people calling in afterward…one caller is a local sex worker)
(go to page 4 to see an interview with a local sex worker…I mention this piece because all the above ones had a role in leading to this one to be possible here in Saskatoon…doors opened, connections made, people introduced, and finally sex workers voices being heard locally and publicly)
That is what I have wanted to do all along. Never my own voice speaking for you. I made mistakes along the way. Crossing the line from activist to client was one of those mistakes. I think had I stayed only an activist this conversation would be different. In your article you mention that “the ability to withdraw support when criticized is a highly manipulative, and I would even say it is an abusive misuse of power on the part of so-called allies.” I agree with that overall when the criticisms being directed are valid, as they most often are. The criticisms at me are correct for the most part. I disagree with the ones where I am misquoted. I made mistakes in the past. I fixed them. I have not been allowed to move past those mistakes by many people however.
For this part I ask you to stop seeing me as a client or an activist. Please see me as a human struggling with life right now, for that is how I began this journey into blogging, Twitter, and activism. As just a person already dealing with depression, I recently began receiving hate tweets, hate email, and false accusations. Even in these comments someone took a private message and claimed I was stalking them. To send a Direct Message on Twitter the other person must follow you. (can I stalk someone following me?) My support for sex worker Rights will never waver, but my ability to withstand hurtful words does waver. I will continue to do things in real life locally. I have left Twitter, deleted my blogs.
Lastly, Olive, if you are still reading this, I want you to know that you played a big role in my learning to let sex workers speak for themselves, to not speak over them. That the intersection of drugs, mental illness, and sex work needs to be listened too more. Thank you.
(not a client, not an ally, just a person who gives a shit)
I’m curious as to what the author and readers think of what I’m trying to do as a photographer, which involved being a client, as I continue to try to be an effective ally.
Thank you for this post. I think more people need to read that BGD post about no more allies.
It amazes me when clients don’t respect their hires. First of all, you hired her – that’s a professional relationship. Secondly, she’s a fellow human being. Thirdly, she’s working a profession which is inherently dangerous, facing a level of risk every day to provide a clearly valued service (otherwise you wouldn’t be willing to pay for it).
But your piece is about clients’ ‘rights’ or ‘feelings’. I agree – making a big deal of the feelings of a sex professional’s client’s feelings is like emphasizing the feelings of a plumber’s client or, even the client of a non-sexual massage place. This isn’t social work – we pay different people to care about or validate or [insert buzzword here] our feelings.
I’m preaching to the choir. But I’ve found my many conversations with women working at strip clubs to be interesting, provacative and mutually respectful, as it should be. But, then again, I live in the friendly upper midwest, and escorting differs from dancing.
[…] of the individuals in sex work management give us mild, conditional support, sort of the same way clients do. You know the story—they have many more demands than they do contributions. I have never seen any […]
This is a disaster of an article. Read this:
“We, as sex workers, deserve rights simply because we are people and people should be able to work and support themselves and their families without being criminalized and harmed. Even when clients are criminalized, we are the ones who live with the lifelong stigma of being branded prostitutes and dragged through the court system. Misogyny and whorephobia intersect here when we note that a man’s conviction for paying for the services of a sex worker virtually never interferes with his life afterwards, yet women can lose their careers if their sex working past is made known.”
First you say sex workers deserve rights as an application of the general principle that all human should have rights and be respected. Then you immediately go on a diatribe about how clients experiences don’t matter. What happened to rights for everyone? Also given the job market being convicted of paying for sex can and does permanently affect one’s lives.
These sorts of articles put me in a weird place. Of course sex workers are the most likely victims of laws against sex work. But some clients do suffer terrible. And to claim you don’t care and those people don’t matter is just terrible.
Maybe you have your reasons for this lack of human compassion. But people shouldn’t be praising you for it. This lack of empathy and compassion among the general public is the reason sex work is still illegal. Stopping compassion is not the answer.
For a long time I’ve been feeling that involving the clients in activism is a bad bad bad idea. I feel suspicious that those activists who want to involve them are trying to establish a social feminist argument for SW rights (we’re working in a caring profession, we’re basically naked therapists, like I cringe at activists who constantly bring up working with the disabled) and I fear this always denigrates our human rights claims, so thank you.
Beyond the obvious material conflict between service provider and client, there is another aspect of the relationship I find antagonistic to activism, which is that most of my clients think I don’t deserve stigma because ” you’re too smart and nice to do this, like I bet you’re in nursing school.” Because I’m giving them a service, they think that’s what I’m good for, and their hope for me is I’ll find some more acceptable service to perform in society, and my stigma is only bad so far as it prevents me from finding something better to be. I guess as a young woman I don’t want clients to speak for me is cause they mostly want to be my daddy.
I want to hear from clients, I love Chester Brown’s “Paying for It”, but I partly I love it because it admits the isolation of the john’s experience from the SW’s.